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By David W. Virtue

The idea of a "covenant" aimed at ensuring unity among Anglican provinces will probably take "six to eight years" due to the extensive consultations needed, said Canon Kenneth Kearon, Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, to the Episcopal House of Bishops, today.

He also said that interest in the concept of an Anglican covenant, also mentioned in the Windsor Report, is "very widespread." The idea was to articulate common articles of faith in a church where self-governing national churches may make moves that put them at odds with other parts of the Communion.

"The debate I'm interested in is much clearer," he said, referring to how the General Convention responds to the Windsor Report. "I am very comfortable personally that a very clear process is now in place. Progress is being made, but it is careful and painstaking work," he said.


"It is very late for this listening process to be beginning. Believe it or not, this listening process was first begun in 1978. Its task is to monitor and share information about local listening processes throughout the Communion, not about establishing some sort of a global listening process."

The Irish-born ACC leader said the aim is "a mutual listening process. It isn't one group of people being listened to by the others."

Canon Kearon said the work of mission and evangelism must always be a priority for our Communion.

Responding to criticism about the slowness of the work of the Panel of Reference, Kearon said he had only been appointed 18 months ago and the Panel was following complicated procedures. Each case "is complex in a different way," he said.

He said he is "respectful" of the way ECUSA has approached the Windsor Report. "The Archbishop of Canterbury has expressed appreciation in this regard."

The Panel of Reference is very much up and running, he said. It met last July and a few weeks ago in Kearon's office, he said. The Panel works in small groups, the work they are undertaking is slow, and criticisms that it is slow are unfounded, he said.

"If there is any consolation the Windsor process is also taking an enormous amount of time in the Anglican Communion. A clear process is now in place. Sometimes, he said, "we need to stand back from our Communion and celebrate the diversity of fabrics."

While Kearon said he was "interested" in the way ECUSA would respond to the Windsor Report, he did not make any recommendations.

He said the Joint Standing Committee is helping the Archbishop Williams assess American responses to the Windsor Report.

"We are concerned with all the stresses and strains in the tapestry of our Communion. We are running around to patch up and repair. Sometimes we all need to stand back from our Communion and see the richness and the wonder of [it]..."


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